Every couple has conflict in their relationship. But stepping back and thinking about what you’re in conflict about may give you a clue to the fundamental problem. Specifically, if you’re arguing or fighting about basically the same issue three times in a row, it’s a good sign that the real problem lies in your past — in your childhood.
That is the basic thesis put forward by Harville Hendrix and his wife, Helen LaKelly Hunt, in this short but insightful video. Noted author and developer of Imago™ Relationship Therapy, Hendrix says that “The core at the problematic in couples is the bringing of unresolved childhood issues into the relationship without knowing you’re doing it. And the way we know that is that if you have the same issue three times in a row, it comes from the past ’cause repetition is an indication of the presence of the past in the present.
“So that’s where the challenge to difference comes from. Because that childhood issue has made it difficult for you to actually be with and hear and relate to other people as they are in themselves. You relate to them as you need them to be, as you wish they were and consequently you merge with them. And so, then they differentiate, and then that triggers your anxiety ’cause now you’re talking to somebody different from the one you thought they were.
“But the issue lies in childhood. The problem shows up in adulthood as objection to difference and the movement through that then — through the dialogue process — is to connect beyond and through difference.”
The surprise twist, though, is that the dialogue process opens you up to a whole new world — the universe that your partner lives in. Fortunately, and beautifully, allowing yourself to discover your partner’s universe is the beginning of healing wounds and ultimately developing a wonderfully fulfilling relationship. Watch Hendrix and Hunt explore this fascinating subject in detail.